Visitors to Bennington Monument encounter hate speech

Local

BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — A visitor to the Bennington Battle Monument in Bennington, Vermont told NEWS10 ABC that instead of being greeted by fellow history buffs, she and her son were met by a man shouting racial slurs. Haiyan Hu believes that they were the victims of a rising wave of hate speech blaming Asian Americans for the coronavirus pandemic.

Haiyan says it all happened last Friday when she and her adult son were visiting the monument and a man walking a dog approached her in the parking lot shouting out a slur, referring to a person of Chinese descent.

“He was saying ‘[racial slur], go home’ more than three times. At first, I thought he was making commands to the dogs. But, the second one, I realize it’s not. Because he is staring at us.”

The professor of Chinese and Japanese languages has lived in the Northeast for 18 years. She is also an American citizen. NEWS10’s Anya Tucker asked Haiyan if this kind of hate speech had ever happened to her before.

“Never. That was the first time. I feel things changing.” 

What’s changing, according to Haiyan, is the attitude toward Asian Americans since the pandemic began. She says she has heard of similar incidents from her international students.

“People write ‘Chinese Virus’ on the ground on campus,” said Haiyan.

As the coronavirus spread with continued political rhetoric blaming China for the virus, hate crimes and hate speech against Asian Americans has spread as well. The New York Police Department has recently created a task force to tackle the rise in these crimes.

“The increase in Xenophobia and hate and basically fear,” said Mia Schultz, a community advocate for racial justice in Bennington.

“What it means to our community is that we have to look out for each other and we have to take care of each other.”

Back at the memorial, Bennington resident Johnny Sanchez expressed his disappointment over the racially motivated incident.

“When you see an Asian family being treated that way it is a reminder that these things have not gone away,” said Sanchez.

As for Haiyan, she says she chose not to involve the police, but to rather share her story in the hope that it would empower others to fight against hate.

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